Wind Symphony returns to IMEC after years-long hiatus

Dayita Mandal and Brianna Wang


Fremd’s Wind Symphony has been selected as one of the five high school bands to perform at the Illinois Music Education Conference (IMEC), an annual event held by the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA), the largest Fine Arts education organization in Illinois. At three days long, IMEC features more than 150 different clinics and concerts. 

Wind Symphony director Matthew Moore explains how the band was invited to play at the conference. 

“The application process first consisted of a February recording session of some very challenging band music,” Moore said. “That recording, along with letters of recommendation from a couple of band director colleagues, as well as concert programs from last year, were all included in the application.” 

Wind Symphony’s performance marks the first time Fremd has attended the prestigious conference since the Jazz Ensemble in 2017 and the Wind Symphony in 2009.

On Jan. 23, Wind Symphony held a preview concert at Fremd to showcase their IMEC performance. Moore wanted to show this concert with a variation of music to the Fremd Band program and families of Wind Symphony that were unable to attend the conference. Additionally, the concert allowed Wind Symphony to run through the music before their performance in Peoria. 

The repertoire consisted of five distinct pieces. The show began with Moore conducting “Firefly” by Ryan George, a piece that Moore calls “magical.” 

“Firefly” was followed by “The Gallant Seventh,” a march composed by John Philip Sousa and conducted by music department chair John Teichert. The next two pieces, conducted by Moore, were more lyrical. “The Grace in Being” by Julie Giroux and “Spangled Heavens, Mvt. III Sweet Canaan” by Donald Grantham blended different instruments into expressive compositions, with the finale being Kevin Day’s “Dancing Fire.” 

“The pieces were selected based on the instrument section strengths, student appeal, difficulty level, length, and appropriateness in relation to the other planned pieces,” Moore said. 

In total, about 25 different pieces were considered for the conference. Out of those, five were selected to perform. The program was then ordered based on the styles of music while also considering the ensemble’s endurance. 

The following Friday, Wind Symphony traveled to the Peoria Civic Center for the 2023 IMEC concert. Apart from their performance, the band participated in various activities together during their two-day trip.

Senior bassoon player Sreya Chamakura found seeing other performances to be an added benefit.

“I enjoyed being able to see another band perform at IMEC and the exhibition hall we went to,” Chamakura said. “The concert hall was amazing to see.”

Wind Symphony members describe how the whole experience at IMEC was rewarding. 

Junior flutist Tabitha Mo found a sense of unity.

“I felt like the band was able to bond and get a lot closer since we were able to perform something that we’ve worked really hard on. We felt super accomplished in the end,” Mo said.

Senior flutist Sophia Katsma recounts how she felt as the band finished their performance.

“Our last note of ‘Dancing Fire’ resonating through the hall invoked roaring applause from the audience. Getting to stand there under the lights with my friends was my favorite part,” Katsma said.